Multiple award-winning Chude Jideonwo is one of the few young Nigerians who’s been at the forefront of championing the course of a new Nigeria. The co-founder of RedMEDIA/The Future Projects and Editor of Y!, who recently concluded his Masters program in Media and Communication, opens up to TopNaija.ng’s Isaac Oladipupo in this interview…
TELL US ABOUT GROWING UP…
I’m the only child of my parents, who gave me the best childhood and education I could hope for. I mean they would do anything to make sure that the foundation was great. It might have to do with the fact that, for instance, my mother is a teacher! My father – God bless his soul – passed on two years ago. He was a brilliant man, the best father money cannot buy; he was just a rock and a solid one at that. My mother is responsible, I always say, for giving me that spirit of reaching as far as I can. She is my role model. And growing under my mother and my father was just a blessing. I couldn’t have asked for anything else.
TEN YEARS IN JOURNALISM AND STILL WAXING STRONGER, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE JOURNALISM?
It’s incredible really. From the children’s choir in church and drama group, everyone thought perhaps I would sing or act. It wasn’t until my 4th year in secondary school that my desire and talent for journalism developed. And I absolutely credit the Vanguard newspapers for that. I had started writing fiction, small novellas that I sadly cannot find now from Primary 5, and you know I kept doing that, writing stories and keeping them away. But from JSS3 I began to read newspapers voraciously, and my father’s favourite was Vanguard which soon became mine too. They had a delicious crop of writers, some names I cannot even remember who have left, and others like Obi Nwakanma, Helen Oviagbele, Dele Sobowale and others who are still there, and I would read these columnists and the reports and I wanted to be like them; to break news, to influence opinion, to tell stories.
YOU’VE DONE QUITE A LOT IN A SHORT WHILE; TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER…
Ah, I have done a lot of things o! Let me try and remember. My career started as TV presenter with Levi Ajuonuma’s The Sunday Show in 2000; I was researched with Inside Out with Agatha and then Celebrating Jesus with Gina Harry. I worked with Funmi Iyanda on New Dawn, which showed on the NTA Network. I was Columnist with Tempo magazine, columnist with Thisday with the Sons & Daughters two pager, columnist with The Comet which is now The Nation, I have even been a personal assistant! In the period I was with the international NGO Common Ground Productions, from where I grew to become Assistant Director and then Associate Producer and then moved to the PR department, as assistant publicist. I have been a pioneer writer for a number of magazine brands True Love, Made, Joy; written for Farafina and others.
ASIDE JOURNALISM, YOU’VE BEEN VERY ACTIVE IN CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE OF A NEW NIGERIA. WHAT DRIVES THESE MOVES OF YOURS?
The major drive is nothing highfaluting. It’s a simple worldview and I and my partner Adebola are terribly passionate about this: If not us, who? If not now, when? When I decided to form the EnoughisEnough group, it wasn’t a grand plan; it was a simple, spontaneous idea that sprung from a desire to make a point that we are not a do-nothing; we need to show as a country that we have a threshold as we can’t just take anything that we find. Government should be afraid of the people! Not the other way round! What kind of country is it that takes anything that we are given without complaint? It was on my birthday that I led the march to the National Assembly in Abuja, and family and friends were worried, and I said to them, is it this small sacrifice that we are afraid of? Marching to the National Assembly in a democracy and followed by the international media? What’s the big deal in that! If we cannot take even this small action, then we are truly screwed as a nation and as a generation! Change will not come unless we work towards it. It’s not enough to make noise in our bedrooms or on Facebook. We really need to take charge of our destiny, and I cannot have enough of saying that.
SO IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE KEY FACTORS THAT CAN BRING ABOUT THE NIGERIA OF OUR DREAMS?
Free and fair elections first and foremost. We must work without compromise towards a full and functional democracy where governance and the management of society is driven by the will and welfare of the people. That is the foundation. If government was driven by the will for the people, electricity would be the government’s gift to us for the [email protected] celebrations, not N10billion budgeted for random and frankly insulting things. The Nigeria of our dreams will yet be far until and unless we begin to demand it through our philosophies and our actions above all else. We must demand it, we must fight for it, and then we must work towards it.
YOU ARE A CELEBRATED YOUTH LEADER, YET YOU SEEM TO EXUDE A HIGH DEGREE OF HUMILITY, WHAT WOULD YOU ASCRIBE THIS RARE VIRTUE TO?
Ah, I think humility is absolutely essential for any human being who has sense! Truly. The greatest of men have come crashing down; the most brilliant have fallen – I am reading a book now by the famous Dale Carnegie which puts this in perspective. Success and all live is ephemeral; and it can all be lost in the twinkle of an eye. Humility is what will ensure that you see the traps before you. It is not a virtue more than it is an absolute essential. Every person who wants greatness would know that the willingness to accept you infallibility and the limits of your abilities or knowledge is the only way you can go far. Even the bible says it: pride comes before a fall. And, no, I have no intention of falling.
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL DEFINITION OF SUCCESS?
It’s a very, very personal concept. I have interviewed over 1000 people in my yet short life and I have seen different concepts of success. I have seen men who have their houses in Ikorodu and a steady modest paying job who think they are successful and men with major brands and jeeps etc who think not yet. For me, it might just be the convergence of professional success, personal content and public service of some sort. Because all the professional success in the world would of need be useless if your family is dysfunctional and a source of grief. That convergence I think best captures it.
WOULD YOU RATE YOURSELF AS SUCCESSFUL NOW?
Nah. Not at all, and this is no cliché. I am nowhere near the goals I set for myself – as a person, as a professional, as a Nigerian. I am happy, I am proud of all the work I have done, yes, but there is so much to do; so many heights to conquer. I mean look at my role models Obiageli Ezekwesili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, everytime they reach heights others saw and rested at, they move beyond it. They are global brands, making real change happen; crashing ceilings. That is my testimony in Jesus name!Enjoying the trip with Partner Adebola Williams
WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘LOVE’ MEAN TO YOU?
Love is God, and I mean that without being clichéd. God is the very idea of love: patience, no record of wrongs; a place of peace. Love is home: that place where you are accepted for who you are; weaknesses, warts and all. A place where you can be yourself; where you can let go; where you can run to. When a man finds that in a woman or vice versa, it is the reflection of God. It’s perfection.
AND WHY IS CHUDE STILL SINGLE..?
Okay, now this one is a laugh! I haven’t decided to be single. I live my life with a lot of dear people who love me, including my priceless mother and other people who I would give a leg and an arm for. Trust me, this life isn’t lived alone; happiness is not just about material success: I am also rich with loved ones.
SO…WHEN ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?
(Laughs out loud!) That’s a stretch! At 26, I don’t think anyone can accuse me of that! But when its time, you will hear!The Future!
TELL US ABOUT THE WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE?
I am the lucky one! Seriously! About telling you about it? Nah! Only celebrities should be telling you that kind of thing o! I will tell her when I get home don’t worry (Laughter!).
DESCRIBE YOUR KIND OF WOMAN IN FIVE WORDS.
Five words? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton!
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